LimeCulture delivers accredited training to it’s 20th cohort of ISVAs

This week has seen LimeCulture deliver its accredited Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) Development Programme to the 20th cohort of ISVAs. “We are really excited to have delivered this course to 20 different groups of ISVAs. Our first ISVA Development Programme was delivered back in 2011, and I don’t think we had any idea just how much demand there would be” says Bernie Ryan, LimeCulture’s Training and Development Director. “At that time, we really had no idea that the ISVA workforce would grow to the extent it has. Back in 2011, there were about 90 ISVAs working in pockets across the country, but we’ve now delivered the Development Programme to over 600 ISVAs, which is absolutely fantastic as it shows how important and valued ISVAs are now, with more and more posts being funded and created every year“.


The ISVA Development Programme has been updated and amended since the first delivery back in 2011. The LimeCulture Training Team continually review and update the course material to ensure that the content is as good as it can be, to meet the needs of ISVAs. “Our course is practical in focus and it gives ISVAs the tools they need to do their job, so its vitally important that we make sure that everything we teach on the course is up-to-date and relevant to assist them in their roles. We constantly assess and update to make sure that the course supports ISVAs to do their job” explains Gemma Kirby, one of LimeCulture’s Training Managers. Gemma previously worked as an ISVA supporting children and young people, so she is perfectly placed to know whether the material developed for the ISVA Development Programme is useful for ISVAs “I know from when I was an ISVA, that I needed my training to be practical and informed by what actually happens on the ground, on the frontline. This is consistent with what ISVAs still tell us they need” she says.

The LimeCulture Training Team know and understand just how hard it is to be an ISVA. “Its such a demanding role” says Gemma. “ISVAs ultimately have to support their clients by identifying and managing their needs, which are often multiple and can be very complex. In addition we regularly have to do this along side an ongoing police investigation or a court case, which can be extremely challenging. So it’s vitally important that we are professional, create and maintain boundaries and completely understand how and where our roles and responsibilities as ISVAs fit within the wider system. It is not an easy job” reflects Gemma.

When the course was originally developed by LimeCulture in 2011, it was designed and planned in recognition that very few people understood the whole system that ISVAs operate within.  “Back in 2011, ISVAs were a relatively new workforce. There was quite a lot of nervousness within the criminal justice agencies about what their role actually entailed” explains Bernie, who managed a team of ISVAs in her previous role as Manager of St Mary’s SARC. “Some people thought they were counsellors, other people thought they were volunteers and in all honesty, in the early years we saw the role interpreted in quite a few different ways, which was worrying because of the potential impact that it could have had on not only clients, but the wider workforce too” explains Bernie. “However, we’ve worked really hard to ensure that through our training key messages have spread about how the ISVA role should work to support people who have experienced sexual violence and why it is important to ensure consistent ISVA provision is delivered”.

The key thing that Limeculture has tried to do through their training is explain the ISVA role in context. “Ensuring the health and well being of the client is central to the role of the ISVA, but as ISVAs also have to operate within the criminal justice system, it is crucial that they understand the strict rules that apply there” explains Jo Palmiero, a prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service who also works on a part-time basis for LimeCulture as a Training Manager. “So many ISVAs are nervous about this element of their role. So we provide them with training that explains the criminal justice process and how ISVAs fit within it. We explain what they can do as an ISVA and what they shouldn’t do, and most importantly, why”. 

The LimeCulture Training team believe this is why the demand for the ISVA Development Programme course has been consistently high since it was launched. New courses become fully booked almost as soon as they are open and they believe it is because of the quality of the material they train and how they apply it. “We only use trainers who are leaders in their field, and most importantly, trainers who can use their professional knowledge and skill and apply it to the ISVA role. So for example, when we train ISVAs on safeguarding, it is not generic safeguarding that we teach, it’s how it applies to ISVAs or when we train the ISVAs on risk management, it is not generic, it’s focused on how ISVAs can manage the risks of their clients.”


LimeCulture is the leading provider of ISVA Training. “We deliver the ISVA Development 3 or 4 times a year and our courses are always full with ISVAs from the full range of ISVA services, regardless of whether they are provided by the voluntary sector, NHS, Local Authority or SARCs” explains Bernie.  “For us, this is a really important aspect of our training. We want -and actively encourage- ISVAs to learn from each other too. They find this really helpful and many of the ISVAs who’ve trained together remain friends and continue to support each other professionally.  The positives that come from learning alongside and from other ISVAs from different areas and services is really key” says Bernie. “In fact, we would be worried if all of the ISVAs on a single cohort came from a single sector or type of service because they wouldn’t get the opportunity to learn from their peers in the same way. Luckily that has never happened and we’ve always had ISVAs employed from a range of services attend our courses”.

The 20th cohort, who started their training this week, is made up of 25 ISVAs – 13 of them are from the specialist sexual violence voluntary sector (such as Rape Crisis-type organisations) – 6 ISVAs are from Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) – 5 ISVAs are from Victim Support and 1 is from an NHS Trust. “I know from when I did my own ISVA training, the value of learning alongside other ISVAs who work in different ISVA services and even different sector types is wonderful. I learnt so much from my peers” recalls Gemma. The feedback from the 20th cohort, who have completed the 1st module this week, has been entirely consistent with this view, with one ISVA providing this feedback “Its been great training, really engaging and fun. Interesting to work alongside other ISVAs and hear point of view different from my own” and from another ISVA “Excellent training, tough, informative and very well put together and delivered. I have really enjoyed the discussions and learnt a lot through other ISVA’s experiences”.


Further information about LimeCulture’s ISVA Development Programme can be found on our website


Please Note- The next ISVA Development Programme will be open for online bookings soon. If you would like to express an interest in joining our 21st cohort, please email us and we ensure that you are given priority when bookings are open.

LimeCulture also provides an Advanced Development Programme made up of different electives for experienced ISVA. For more information about our additional training for accredited ISVAs, please visit our website

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